I'd like to show you a picture of one of my most amazing parenting achievements:
Sorry, this isn't meant to be an ad for IKEA, but...
If you've been following this blog, you may know why this is so amazing. It's that this is the first time ever -- since I've had these two kids -- that their toys have been organized and sorted with a place for everything and everything in its place. (To show you what my usual M.O. is like, have a look at the pictures here and here.)
Since I'm not a fan of consumer culture, I really hesitate to post a picture of how many toys my kids have. However, part of my motivation for organizing the toys was to cut back on new toy purchases. At our old apartment, we only had room for a few large toy-boxes where all of the toys got tossed in and jumbled together. That made it impossible to play with any set that includes small parts, and larger toys even got sort of buried and lost. So the kids would constantly ask for new toys, which would be played with for a while (but would eventually get put away in the grand toy black hole and be forgotten).
As I'd predicted, merely getting out all the old toys and sorting them was like giving our kids a whole roomful of new toys. They immediately started playing with a bunch of old toys -- some of which they hadn't played with in years -- including some unexpected choices. Here are some that they rescued from my "put away in the basement" box:
These are some baby dolls that I'd bought for Nico when he was a toddler (to use to explain that he would soon have a baby brother).
One interesting point was to see what my two boys would decide about the dolls' gender. All three dolls were bald and naked (but not anatomically correct), so none of them had a built-in gender. I gave my kids all of the dolls' outfits -- one of which was pink. Here's what they decided:
The larger doll is a girl, and the two smaller dolls (who are identical except for their eye color) are boys. The girl is named "Incredible" and the two boys are "Jack-Jack" and "Mimi." (They were obviously influenced by the film The Incredibles, though I'm not sure where they got the name "Mimi" from.)
As I watched them play, the interesting -- and surprising -- thing was the total absence of gender stereotypes (aside from the idea that pink is for girls, see our history on that topic here and here). Instead, they mostly played school with the dolls. Nico explained that since Incredible is a year older than her two little brothers, she's learning more advanced science than the other two. He gave the two little boys a geography lesson (from the world map in the picture above) and taught Incredible about the Solar System from the other poster.
At bedtime, Nico decided to choose Incredible and Jack-Jack as his "bed-night buddies" (my kids' term for whichever toys they've decided to take to bed with them).
After dropping the kids off at school this morning, I came back and decided to take a picture of the dolls (for this post), but I couldn't find them. Eventually I discovered that Nico had spontaneously put them away in their bin! Without being told to do so!
Yes -- another parenting triumph!! I don't know why I kept thinking I'm a bad mom...